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[VIDEO] Are we over-screening for breast cancer?

Healthcare Triage recently discussed the topic of screening for breast cancer and whether the age should be increased to over 50 years old. Dr. Aaron C...

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|Apr 27|magazine6 min read

Healthcare Triage recently discussed the topic of screening for breast cancer and whether the age should be increased to over 50 years old.

Dr. Aaron Carroll reported that new research shows we may be too aggressive in screening for breast cancer.

First, the USPSTF now recommends that women ages 50-74 should schedule their mammography appointments every two years.

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“The new recommendations are an acknowledgement that the harms of yearly screenings might outweigh the benefits,” said Dr. Carroll.

The USPSTF founds that if 10,000 women age 50-59 are screened, there will be eight fewer deaths from breast cancer. In 10,000 women age 60-69, there would be 21 fewer deaths from breast cancer.

“But about 20 percent of women who are diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer are getting therapy for something that otherwise would never have caused a health problem or even been diagnosed,” added Dr. Carroll. “One in five women is over-treated and the treatment for breast cancer is not benign.”

“The current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms screening mammography in women 75 years and older,” continued Dr. Carroll.

According to Dr. Carroll, there are no randomized controlled trials that show a benefit in this age group at all. The harms are still there though.

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Dr. Carroll’s final thoughts on the topic were that women under the age of 50 should have the individual decision to choose when they start mammography screenings.

“Women who place a higher value on the potential benefit than the potential harms may choose to begin screening between the ages of 40 and 49 years,” said Dr. Carroll. “But they don’t have to.”

Watch Dr. Carroll’s complete thoughts on the topic in the video below.

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